Aperture R.I.P. — What to Expect From Apple’s All New Photos App?

A lot has been said about Apple pulling the plug on Aperture. Not only Aperture, iPhoto is a goner, too! Loyal Aperture users are considering the transition to Lightroom, giving in to monopolist Adobe that’ll rule the digital imaging processing world. Not that Apple drops digital imaging altogether. The upcoming Photos app will replace and reposition the company’s professional photo editing software. This being Apple and them knowing how important photography per se is, I doubt very strongly their new photo app will be a letdown.

First though, there’s no need to rush from Aperture to Lightroom if you appreciate the former’s handling and functionalities. Just take a deep breath and continue using Aperture. After all, Apple is going to support the software for the next OS update, so what’s the rush?

There is plenty of time to make a decision. Aperture continues to work just fine. It’s not like a subscription that will expire at the end of the month. Lightroom will still be there if whatever Apple has in the works ends up being a total flop — which would imply that Apple’s Photos app doesn’t get the pro features many are hoping for while Lightroom has them now.

But that’s the worst case scenario. So what to realistically expect from Photos app?

The app will offer seamless operation across all Apple OS platforms, including the migration of existing photo libraries to the new app. Meaning: the end of the line for Aperture updates will be to ensure that the software is compatible with OS X Yosemite. Following that, it’s Apple’s new Photos app or bust.

The official screenshot from Apple of the new Photos app for OS X reveals quite a few adjustments.
The official screenshot from Apple of the new Photos app for OS X reveals quite a few adjustments.

Aperture-like professional-grade features we can expect from the new Photos app are image search, advanced editing, effects and, most notably, third-party plugins a.k.a. extensibility. You’ll get a thumbnail bar on the left and features familiar to Aperture users, like histograms. You can expect more editing sliders and options than the default app has included in the past.

Furthermore, Photos will likely keep keywords and file managements and implement the right visual changes. Last but not least, Photos app and iCloud Photo Library will enable the storage of all photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere.

But only 5GB cloud space free? Apple must be kidding, the whole world moves ahead while Cupertino still thinks a bit of storage space is monetizable. But then again, Adobe’s free photo plan storage space has just been cut from 20GB to 2GB, so they all try to get you hooked on the cloud and squeeze you month by month…

But no, there’s no reason to believe that Apple accepts Adobe’s superiority in digital imaging software. Don’t expect a transitionary workflow for Aperture users moving to Lightroom which would be indicative of Photos’ lack of robust, professional-grade options. Ain’t gonna happen.

Still, word is that OS X’s Aperture/iPhoto replacement appears to focus more on iOS 8′s editing features than on pro tools. How important those “pro” tools really are is something entirely up to you yourself. I can live happily ever after without many of the bloated “pro” products “pro” features.

But like it or not, Apple is making big changes to its lineup of photo editing products — despite the fact that proper photo editing is a bread and butter issue for many Apple users. It’s unlikely the company will snub its most loyal clientele. My main worry though? That Photos is too much iOS oriented. Seamless is all well and good, but I need a robust photo editing software, not another of many similar apps.

Over time though OS X devices become more and more like watered-down iOS devices. Apple is more and more becoming a consumer company. That would tell us something about the future product lineup. But then again, simplicity and ease of use remain key to Apple’s thought process.

The name of the new app, Photos, says it all. The name in itself a statement of the path Apple chooses. It’s the most basic, essential, accurate, spot on name a photo imaging could possibly have. So yes, if Photos enhances the experience, if it manages to simplify the serious photographer’s workflow and is about the essence of photography, I’ll always prefer a standalone solution to a monthly subscription plan.

  • Dave

    Exactly! People will understand the advantages of the iPhoto / Aperture fusion when they see the coming pro-bundles (= Aperture) and 3rd party in-apps in the appstore. We will get the opportunity of a highly individualized photo app based on the best workflow there is. My photos app certainly would put priority on creating photobooks with a high quality print service, where I get a choice of papers and ultra print DPI, while others would prefere a variety of file management systems. And since Apple certainly won’t dump existing features photos app won’t be a step back. Don’t worry! Apple is clever: DxO, VSCO, Blurb etc. must sign in the appstore…

  • Nice thinking ahead Dave. Photos as the new developer platform for anything photography. Expect a myriad of plugins and sub-apps…

  • danielpicasso

    Thorough analysis as always Dan and to your point no need to rush to make a change for the sake of change. I wish Apple would of communicated a clear “connecting the dots” strategy from a users point of view of the migration from Aperture to a Photos environment more carefully versus how it was done. From my point of view its about keeping Apertures approach to organizing photo libraries, interaction of tools and to Dave’s insight on a potential “coexistence” strategy with other tools like Silver Efex, DXO, Color Efex etc. Looks like there is hope for me to avoid the Light Room Zone!- Dan